May 5, 2022

Considering A Career As A Dog Trainer? Find Out What A Career in Dog Training Looks Like At PPC.

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Considering a career in dog training? Patrick’s Pet Care (PPC) is unlike any other dog training provider in the DMV. How do we retain our trainers? Patrick’s Pet Care is an awesome place to work. The founder, Patrick Flynn, has always believed his business should be dog and employee centered, “I want the best care available anywhere for the dogs who come to my business. To make that possible I believe that management needs to create the best place to work for our employees, including education, training, benefits, and company culture.”

We recently sat down with longtime employee Joe, to talk about why he has stuck around, and some of his favorite parts of the job. Joe recently celebrated his fourth anniversary as an employee at PPC. He started as a dog walker and he is now general manager of enrichment and training.

The first thing that stands out to Joe is just how different PPC is from other trainers in the area. “We aren’t just results-oriented,” Joe says. “We are also deeply committed to the moral and sustainable development of behavior modification, and the education of our customers.” 

This philosophy shines through in our customer reviews:

I really credit Joe to helping me understand a lot of fundamentals in dog behavior, positive reinforcement and counter conditioning. This place has a really great feel and I genuinely looked forward to each training session! Joe is super nice and approachable.

Recent customer Evelyn Q.

 “Every client has been happy,” Joe explains. “A company that shares these values across services is able to provide holistic care. Many say they have been changed and grown as a person through our dog training process.”

Jessie W., who recently used our private training services, agrees. “From my first consult with PPC I felt like we had a plan and the tools to work on these issues immediately,” says Jessie. “ I worked with Ian for 10 sessions and feel like not only did my dog learn a lot, but I gained the skills to continue with his training on my own.”

Aside from shared values and goals, at PPC we have access to world-class resources in the DMV and around the country, and provide ample opportunities for our trainers to grow in their craft. This includes paying for everyone on our team to become fear-free and force-free certified trainers, as well as providing regular continuing education opportunities to ensure our team stays current and cutting-edge. 

Joe says, “Our [access to] resources [means] we’re never done learning. We have relationships with the best dog trainers in the world [and] strong relationships with behaviorists in the DMV.” We are always up-to-date with the latest research and protocols. 

For Halloween, our staff went out to Shocktober and had a blast! 

As in any industry, the rapport between team members is so important to the dynamic of the workplace. Although our trainers typically work separately from one another, they still find ways to collaborate. “We feed off each other in a few ways,” Joe explains. The team shares their cases with one another and develops case studies based on the dogs they work with. The fact that our trainers come from different backgrounds lends itself well to problem solving and innovation. “We share clients because we learn from each other and provide different exercises,” says Joe. “This especially separates us from freelancers because we’re able to ask for help and input from everyone.” 

Technology plays a big role at PPC in helping us stay connected to each other and outside resources. Regular happy hours and quarterly company events help, too. 

Within the force-free Dog Training career at Patrick’s Pet Care, there are a few different paths. “The overarching goal,” Joe says, “is achieving [the training] with force-free in mind.” Our wide range of training services is necessary to work with a wide range of dogs. “It’s a sign that PPC cares about appropriately educating pups,” Joe says. 

Possible Dog Training Career Pathways At PPC

For those just starting out in their careers, our new team members begin as Training Apprentices in one of two possible positions: Enrichment Walk Specialists or Dog Montessori Teachers.

1. Enrichment Walk Specialist / Apprentice Dog Trainer

At PPC, instead of the usual dog walking service, we offer Enrichment Walks—a specialized dog walking service designed to fulfill the whole dog, body and mind. Each session provides a unique experience tailored to the dog’s interests and needs.

Goal setting – an important training element – is a big part of our Enrichment Walks. All of our Enrichment Walk Specialists are continuing their education, with a few working toward their training certifications. As they gain more knowledge in how to offer dogs choice and implement counter-conditioning, they are able to use what they learn in their walks. Our Enrichment Walk Specialists work closely with the owners to achieve a mutual goal. 

While you gain experience with dogs and learn from one of our certified trainers as an apprentice, we pay to send you to school to get certified at the force-free school of your choice.

2. Dog Montessori Teacher / Apprentice Dog Trainer

Our first-of-its kind Dog Montessori School is a totally new way to do dog day care, focusing on a dog’s unique physical, mental, and emotional needs. This unique alternative to the typical dog day care is founded on three pillars: 

I:  Learning
II: Socialization
III: Enrichment

Because each dog that comes into the Montessori program has individual goals, our Montessori Teachers must have a knowledge of luring, cueing, and conditioning – all major training practices. We engage the dogs in enrichment activities throughout the day to build their confidence and achieve their individual goals. All of our Montessori Teachers are either Training Apprentices or certified Trainers. 

While you gain experience with dogs and learn from one of our certified trainers as an apprentice, we pay to send you to school to get certified at the force-free school of your choice.

Possible Career Growth Paths

Once you have become a certified Trainer with a scholarship from Patrick’s Pet Care’s, as you continue to grow your education and skills, there are multiple career pathways for career advancement:

Day Care 101

At Day Care 101, we work with dogs to overcome specific obstacles through individualized training. This program is a preliminary course for dogs who want to get into Dog Montessori School but need some additional training before they’re ready to be in the classroom with the other dogs. Intimate knowledge of fear-free training tactics is absolutely necessary so that the trainer can modify their approach with each new case. 

Enrichment 1:1 

Enrichment 1:1 is the most specialized service we perform at PPC. In our 1:1 sessions, our Enrichment Specialists work with your dog to implement specific behaviors and build your dog’s confidence. We also offer a Canine Cognition Academy as part of our Enrichment 1:1 service, where we work with dogs on advanced canine cognition training. It may look like they’re just playing, but this career track takes the most training experience because it’s also the most focused. 

Private Training Lessons

Similar to Enrichment 1:1, our Private Training Lessons work with individual dogs to address specific, individualized needs. This might be working on the basics (sit, stay, etc) or—more often—it’s overcoming a behavior challenge like leash reactivity, crate anxiety, or intense fear of the groomers. Just like Enrichment 1:1, being a Private Trainer requires a high-level of training experience and experience. Leash Reactivity: Greeting other Dogs Calmly

Group Training Classes

Lastly, we also offer Group Training Classes. These classes tend to be multi-week courses, but sometimes are a single class, and typically focus on fun (but valuable) topics like Cafe & Brunch Manners (aka: preparing your dog for patio season), loose leash walking, or providing enrichment at home. These are typically conducted by the same folks on staff who work in Enrichment 1:1 or Private Training, but there’s also an opportunity to specialize in Group Training Classes. 

Professional Development For Your Dog Training Career

Force-Free Trainers Ian and Atlee After Completing a week-long training academy by nationally recognized
dog trainer Pat Miller at Peaceable Paws Dog & Puppy
Training Center.

One of the best ways to gain experience is in the field, that’s why we take on new hires who are either in the process of getting their training certification (which we pay for!) or haven’t started but have a demonstrated interest in a future career as a dog trainer. Each new trainer at PPC shadows an experienced trainer and works closely with them to learn about the different branches of training they can work toward. In getting to watch an experienced trainer interact with the dogs, our new trainers pick up on exercises, have the opportunity to ask questions, and problem-solve with expert guidance. Our trainers also learn virtually in online classes and in-person at company funded workshops from some of the best fear-free, force-free trainers in the world.

But the professional development doesn’t end with successfully completing your force-free training certification! Our trainers participate in continuing education every year, and have the opportunity to learn from some of the most highly respected dog trainers in the country.

One of the best parts of working at PPC, at least according to Joe, is the “a-ha!” moment when the training clicks with the dog. “When you’re doing an exercise [or] protocol… you see the moment the dog gets it and it’s a perfect feeling,” Joe says. “It tells you that you’re doing the right thing, and it’s clear the dogs are proud of themselves for getting it. You feed off of each other’s excitement.”

Are you interested in a career at Patrick’s Pet Care? Learn more & apply today!

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